Updated May 02, 2023

Best Cyberpunk Books

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— Plug into the dystopian future with our selection of the best cyberpunk books of all time! These visionary novels will immerse you in high-tech societies, rebellious protagonists, and thought-provoking themes that redefine the boundaries of science fiction.

One of Time’s 100 best English-language novels.

A mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous, you’ll recognize it immediately.

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.

“[Snow Crash is] a cross between Neuromancer and Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland. This is no mere hyperbole.”—The San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Fast-forward free-style mall mythology for the twenty-first century.”—William Gibson“Brilliantly realized . . . Stephenson turns out to be an engaging guide to an onrushing tomorrow.”—The New York Times Book Review

Our favourite quote from Snow Crash

Ninety-nine percent of everything that goes on in most Christian churches has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual religion. Intelligent people all notice this sooner or later, and they conclude that the entire one hundred percent is bullshit, which is why atheism is connected with being intelligent in people's minds.

Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer is a science fiction masterpiece—a classic that ranks as one of the twentieth century’s most potent visions of the future.

Case was the sharpest data-thief in the matrix—until he crossed the wrong people and they crippled his nervous system, banishing him from cyberspace. Now a mysterious new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run at an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, a mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case is ready for the adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction.

Neuromancer was the first fully-realized glimpse of humankind’s digital future—a shocking vision that has challenged our assumptions about technology and ourselves, reinvented the way we speak and think, and forever altered the landscape of our imaginations.

Our favourite quote from Neuromancer

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding...

The bestselling cult classic—now a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Our favourite quote from Ready Player One

People who live in glass houses should shut the fuck up.

MAJOR NEW NETFLIX SERIES This must-read story is a confident, action-and-violence packed thriller, and future classic noir SF novel from a multi-award-winning author.Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course.But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn¿t be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society.

Our favourite quote from ALTERED CARBON

It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill.

Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignment--find them and then..."retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!

Our favourite quote from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression.

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, the break-out science fiction debut featuring additional stories and a Q&A with the author.

Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories.

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. Emiko is not human; she is an engineered being, grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in this chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits and forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly-acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

In this brand-new edition celebrating the book’s reception into the canon of celebrated modern science fiction, accompanying the text are two novelettes exploring the dystopian world of The Windup Girl, the Theodore Sturgeon Award-winning “The Calorie Man” and “Yellow Card Man.” Also included is an exclusive Q&A with the author describing his writing process, the political climate into which his debut novel was published, and the future of science fiction.

Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.  

Our favourite quote from The Windup Girl

Deep into the twenty-first century, the line between man and machine has been inexorably blurred as humans rely on the enhancement of mechanical implants and robots are upgraded with human tissue. In this rapidly converging landscape, cyborg superagent Major Motoko Kusanagi is charged to track down the craftiest and most dangerous terrorists and cybercriminals, including “ghost hackers” who are capable of exploiting the human/machine interface and reprogramming humans to become puppets to carry out the hackers’ criminal ends. When Major Kusanagi tracks the cybertrail of one such master hacker, the Puppeteer, her quest leads her into a world beyond information and technology where the very nature of consciousness and the human soul are turned upside down. From Shirow Masamune, the award-winning creator of Appleseed and Dominion, comes The Ghost in the Shell, the breakthrough manga that inspired the internationally acclaimed animated film. An epic dystopian tale of politics, technology, and metaphysics, The Ghost in the Shell has been hailed worldwide as an unparalleled visionary work of graphic fiction. And now it’s ready to dazzle the imagination in its second millennium.

Our favourite quote from The Ghost in the Shell Vol. 1

The Singularity. It is the era of the posthuman. Artificial intelligences have surpassed the limits of human intellect. Biotechnological beings have rendered people all but extinct. Molecular nanotechnology runs rampant, replicating and reprogramming at will. Contact with extraterrestrial life grows more imminent with each new day.

Struggling to survive and thrive in this accelerated world are three generations of the Macx clan: Manfred, an entrepreneur dealing in intelligence amplification technology whose mind is divided between his physical environment and the Internet; his daughter, Amber, on the run from her domineering mother, seeking her fortune in the outer system as an indentured astronaut; and Sirhan, Amber's son, who finds his destiny linked to the fate of all of humanity.

For something is systemically dismantling the nine planets of the solar system. Something beyond human comprehension. Something that has no use for biological life in any form.

Our favourite quote from Accelerando

To boldly go where no uploaded metahuman colony has gone before' has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?

This gripping cyberpunk novel — the first in a trilogy — envisions a future in which the economy of the United States has crashed, while the Soviet Union not only remains intact but invades Western Europe. With the collapse of NATO, governments have abdicated control to an ostensibly private antiterrorist and security firm, the Second Alliance. But the fascist mercenaries of the alliance are working from a hidden agenda, and their only challenge comes from the New Resistance, a rogues' gallery of rebels who battle mind control and weapons of mass destruction with sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll.
The "eclipse" of the title refers to the shadows that war casts across the light of conventional morality, allowing citizens to tolerate the erosion of their civil rights. The plot, praised as "chillingly plausible and carefully developed" by Kirkus Reviews, shifts between the political chaos of Earth and the vast space colony of FirStep. Originally published in 1985, the novel offers prescient views of the rise of drone surveillance, the growth of Europe's radical right movements, and an increasingly dark web of media manipulation and propaganda. A compelling tale in its own right, Eclipse offers a wealth of action and intrigue that reaches a thrilling climax and conclusion in the sequels Eclipse Penumbra and Eclipse Corona.  

Our favourite quote from Eclipse: A Song Called Youth: Book One

By the end of the 30th century humanity has the capability to travel the universe, to journey beyond earth and beyond the confines of the vulnerable human frame.

The descendants of centuries of scientific, cultural and physical development divide into three: fleshers — true Homo sapiens; Gleisner robots — embodying human minds within machines that interact with the physical world; and polises — supercomputers teeming with intelligent software, containing the direct copies of billions of human personalities now existing only in the virtual reality of the polis.

Diaspora is the story of Yatima — a polis being created from random mutations of the Konishi polis base mind seed — and of humankind, Of an astrophysical accident that spurs the thousandfold cloning of the polises. Of the discovery of an alien race and of a kink in time that means humanity — whatever form it takes — will never again be threatened by acts of God.

Our favourite quote from Diaspora

No wonder most fleshers had stampeded into the polises, once they had the chance: if disease and aging weren’t reason enough, there was gravity, friction, and inertia. The physical world was one vast, tangled obstacle course of pointless, arbitrary restrictions.

This is a complete novel, not part of a series as stated elsewhere on this page.Hardwired, the acknowledged inspiration for the games Cyberpunk Red and Cyberpunk 2077, is now available in a deluxe edition for its thirtieth anniversary, with new content by the author. Earth lies prostrate beneath the lash of the Orbital powers, and Earth’s Balkanized nations have no choice but to let the Orbitals plunder their remaining wealth. Below the zone of Orbital control, buttonheads, panzerjocks, dirtgirls, and hustlers scramble for their ticket out of the gravity well. But now, if the criminal underworld and the guerrilla underground can join forces, there is a chance to shift the balance of power— in a war fought on the ground by hardwired commandos, in the air by high-flying deltajocks, and by genius hackers in the neural interface. As Roger Zelazny said, "Hardwired is a tough, sleek juggernaut of a story, punctuated by strobe light movements, coursing to the wail of jets and the twang of steel guitars— glittering, nasty, and noble— and told in a style perfectly suiting its content. It has all of my favorite things— blood, love, fire, hate and a high ideal or two. I wish I’d written this one.” The Thirtieth Anniversary Edition of this cyberpunk classic includes essays by the author devoted to the origin of the novel, the unexpected source of the term “panzerboy,” and an amused guide through some of the oddities of the first German edition.“Williams' use of language is as explosive and as techno-tinged as the world he describes. Reading the book is like taking a jet ride across a futuristic America, with acceleration forcing you back in your seat all the way.”Rockland Courier-Gazette“Cowboy is no Rambo; he is a thoughtful, intelligent hero. He and Sarah are two of the many good things about HARDWIRED. Another is the world they inhabit--- an incredibly detailed future of personality transfers, bizarre drugs, cybernetic implants, and complex political and economic power maneuvers . . . It is one of the best SF novels I have read in years; I heartily recommend it.”Fantasy Review“The story moves with the speed of a hovercraft, the climax has all the action and excitement of Star Wars and the ending has a delightful twist.”Providence Sunday Journal“Hardwired is his best book to date...as the parallel plotlines of a hotshot contraband flyer and a sleek bodyguard/assassin develop and gradually intersect, the book takes on a life of its own.”

Our favourite quote from Hardwired: 30th Anniversary Edition

Cory Doctorow's debut cyberpunk science fiction that explores the scarcity of morality in a world that has conquered death and material insufficiency―now repackaged with a new cover!

Jules is a young man barely a century old. He's lived long enough to see the cure for death and the end of scarcity, to learn ten languages and compose three symphonies...and to realize his boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World.

Disney World! The greatest artistic achievement of the long-ago twentieth century. Now in the care of a network of volunteer "ad-hocs" who keep the classic attractions running as they always have, enhanced with only the smallest high-tech touches.

Now, though, it seems the "ad hocs" are under attack. A new group has taken over the Hall of the Presidents and is replacing its venerable audioanimatronics with new, immersive direct-to-brain interfaces that give guests the illusion of being Washington, Lincoln, and all the others. For Jules, this is an attack on the artistic purity of Disney World itself.

Worse: it appears this new group has had Jules killed. This upsets him. (It's only his fourth death and revival, after all.) Now it's war: war for the soul of the Magic Kingdom, a war of ever-shifting reputations, technical wizardry, and entirely unpredictable outcomes.

Bursting with cutting-edge speculation and human insight, Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a coming-of-age romantic comedy and a kick-butt cybernetic tour de force.  

Our favourite quote from Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom: A Novel

Synners are synthesizers - not machines, but people. They take images from the brains of performers, and turn them into a form which can be packaged, sold and consumed. This book is set in a world where new technology spawns new crime before it hits the streets. In SYNNERS the line between technology and humanity is hopelessly slim; the human mind and the external landscape have fused to the point where any encounter with reality is incidental.A classic novel from one of the founders and mainstays of the cyberpunk movement

Our favourite quote from Synners (S.F. MASTERWORKS)

The Paragons of Queer Speculative Fiction series keeps alive books vital to gay imagination. India Carless, alias Trouble, managed to stay one step ahead of the feds until she retired from life as a hacker and settled down to run a small network for an artist's co-op. Now someone has stolen her pseudonym and begun to use it for criminal hacking. So Trouble returns. Once the fastest gun on the electronic frontier, she has been called out of retirement for one last fight. And it's a killer. Less than a hundred years from now, the forces of law and order crack down on the world of the internet. It is the closing of the frontier. The hip, noir adventurers who got by on wit, bravado, and drugs, who haunt the virtual worlds of the shadows of cyberspace are up against the edges of civilization. It's time to adapt or die.  

Our favourite quote from Trouble and Her Friends (Paragons of Queer Speculative Fiction)

"As hip and breathless as William Gibson, but spiced with dark humor and the horrible realisation that Noon knows of what he writes....Vurt is passionate, distinctive, demanding and enthralling--first-time novelist Noon has started with a bang."--The London Times.

Our favourite quote from Vurt by Noon

Lauren Beukes's frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable follows four narrators living in a dystopian near-future.

Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program. Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers. Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid. Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem.

On a collision course that will rewire their lives, these characters crackle with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, Lauren Beukes spins a tale of a utopia gone wrong, satirically undermining the idea of progress as society's white knight.  

Our favourite quote from Moxyland

In the near future, the only thing growing faster than the criminal population is the Electric Church, a new religion founded by a mysterious man named Dennis Squalor. The Church preaches that life is too brief to contemplate the mysteries of the universe: eternity is required. In order to achieve this, the converted become Monks -- cyborgs with human brains, enhanced robotic bodies, and virtually unlimited life spans. Enter Avery Cates, a dangerous criminal known as the best killer-for-hire around. The authorities have a special mission in mind for Cates: assassinate Dennis Squalor. But for Cates, the assignment will be the most dangerous job he's ever undertaken -- and it may well be his last."Some debuts simply set new bars in a genre. Jeff Somers' THE ELECTRIC CHURCH is one such book, a gritty noir story that challenges and surprises with every page. A novel that is equal parts Raymond Chandler and William Gibson. A major new talent has arrived -- and it's about time!" -- James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of MAP OF BONES and BLACK ORDER

Our favourite quote from The Electric Church

From Bruce Sterling, bestselling author of Heavy Weather and Holy Fire, comes this startling, disturbing, and darkly comic vision of the future of America.  It is the story of a once great nation coming apart at the seams while an unending spectacle of politics, science, sex, and corruption has everyone too busy to notice....

It's November 2044, an election year, and the state of the Union is a farce.  The federal government is broke, cities are privately owned, the military is shaking down citizens in the streets, and Wyoming is on fire.  The last place anyone expects to find an answer is the nation's capital.

Washington has become a circus and no one knows that better than Oscar Valparaiso.  A master political spin doctor, Oscar has been in the background for years, doing his best to put the proper spin on anything that comes up.  Now he wants to do something quite unusual in politics.  He wants to make a difference.  But Oscar has a skeleton in his closet: a grotesque and unspeakable scandal that haunts his personal life.

He has one unexpected ally: Dr. Greta Penninger.  She is a gifted neurologist at the bleeding edge of the neural revolution.  Together Oscar and Greta know the human mind inside and out.  And they are about to use that knowledge to spread a very powerful message: that it's a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  It's an idea whose time has come...again.  And once again so have its enemies: every technofanatic, government goon, and reactionary laptop assassin in America.

Like all revolutionaries, Oscar and Greta might not survive to change the world, but they're determined to put a new spin on it.    

Our favourite quote from Distraction

Mindplayers are tomorrow's psychoanalysts, linked directly to their patients using sophisticated machinery attached to the optic nerve. In one-to-one Mindplay contact, you can be inside someone else's head, wandering the landscapes of their consciousness. Allie is a sensation-seeking young woman, obtaining illicit thrills from her shady friend Jerry Wirerammer. But Allie goes badly astray when Jerry supplies her with a "madcap" - a device that lets you temporarily and harmlessly experience psychosis. There's something wrong with Jerry's madcap, and the psychosis doesn't go away when it's disconnected. Allie ends up undergoing treatment at a "dry-cleaner", and she is faced with a stark choice - jail, for her illegal use of the madcap; or training to become a Mindplayer herself.During training Allie becomes familiar with the Pool - a cohesive, though shifting mental landscape jointly constructed by a number of minds; and more disturbingly encounters McFlor, who has been mind-wiped, so that his adult body is inhabited by a mind only two hours old. And as a fully-fledged Mindplayer Allie has to choose between the many specialist options open to her - Reality Affixing or Pathosfinding; Thrillseeking or Dreamfeeding.

Our favourite quote from Mindplayers

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I would continuously search for new ideas. I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, 3 bucks for a magazine, 20 bucks for a book. One good idea that led to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over.
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